Who doesn't love the Chuckster. 2013 brought us an intresting sort of feeling out film about the lovable little psycho. The film is written and directed by Don Mancini, who created the franchise and has written all films to date. This film however seems to find just the right tone for Chuck, somewhere between the horrifying hellion of the first three Child's Play films and the delightful comedy of Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky. Plus I found the backstory added into this sixth installment very appropriate. We'll have to wait to see what's in Chucky's future as this was also a feeling out film for the studio.(obviously trying to decide if Chucky had any life left or if the studio should scrap the property and send it into remake development hell) All in all the film was a success and a failure. On one hand we'll probably see Chucky head straight to DVD again soon...on the other, we'll probably see Chucky in a another low budget attempt to pump some money out of the fanbase. I've never been one to care about how a film is released but, I hope Universal can bring themselves to upgrade the cinematography and all around production value of the next installment. I can say for sure though that as long as Don Mancini and Brad Dourif come back for more so will I.
While Sci-fi icon David Cronenberg spent most of the year being an unbearable asshole, (who is anyone to question Kubrick?) his son Brandon restored some healthy conversation to the family name. Antiviral is your basic Cronenberg outing with delicious slices of sci-fi, horror, and truth. The film has that Videodrome feel with just a dash of hungry young talent added. Brandon seems to be very much in touch with the world today, add that to his fathers pantry of mind-bending ingredients and the sum is a very exciting director we will all be keeping our eyes on.
8. Texas Chainsaw 3D
Here's the first entry I might have to take some heat on. After speaking with several other fans and critics I'd have to say I'm one of the very few who enjoyed this outing by Leatherface. I love the new direction they're taking the franchise and I hope they get the opportunity to expand on the anti-heroes this film created. I would love to see the next film be about a party at the Sawyer house with rapist, murders and maybe a child molester or two invited to the festivities. I could really get into watching Alexandra Daddario seducing some scum bags before locking the gates and telling her big cuz to "do his thing" on some Texas redneck baddies.
7. No One Lives
What a pleasent suprise. Apparently the knuckleheads over at WWE studios finally realized that in order to make a good movie you need more than muscled up steroid freaks (not that they left those out entirely). I have to say that I enjoyed both No One Lives and The Call this year. These films were leaps and bounds ahead of the studios previous efforts and with news now that WWE has signed up the Soska sisters for See No Evil 2 and are developing a Leprechaun reboot, well we will just have to hold our breaths and see how good they can become. No One Lives has a fairly simple premise. What happens when a regular bunch of bad guys run into a very real and very prepared psychopath. Although the film seems to hit cruise control before it's final act it's an overall very enjoyable film. Luke Evans had already been cast as the next big screen Dracula when I saw this film and having seen him primarily in only smaller roles in films like Fast Six, The Raven, and the truly horrible Three Musketeers adaptations, I must say I had my doubts. Evans gets his chance to shine here though in what may very well seem like the most unlikely of places, luckily he does just that. Dracula will most likely be a very different film all the way around(tone, setting, and most of all budget) but Evans won me over here and I'm trully looking forward to all his future projects.
6. Only God Forgives
Love it or hate it you'd be hard pressed to find a more beautiful neon nightmare than Nicholas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives. While not a pure breed horror film this genre bending second collaboration from the talented combintation of Refn and Gossling contains some of the most horrific and memorable imagery of the year. An intentionally slow burning thriller that left many critics feeling unsatisfied and miserable by the fact that this enticing premise refused to meet their generic checklist of cliched movie mechanics. This film takes you places you've never been in a world you've probably never truly seen before, already one of my favorite films to view with others as it's always fun to gage the varied reactions of different viewers.
5. The Lords of Salem
Congratulations to Rob Zombie for this devilish mind trip of evil. It's no secret that I've never been a fan of Zombie's irrelevant trailer trash style and while his films often feel more like a cauldron of mismatched concepts than plotted storytelling, it seems he has finally created something that feels more like a homage than a rip-off. I enjoyed this film so much that I've watched it at least three times this year. Yes, there's still a lot of Zombie favorites in this film but at least they seem at home here. led (for lack of a better word) by Sherrie Moon Zombie who's acting is almost tolerable this time out, the film settles into an errie brew reminiscent of Argento's Suspiria and Fulci's The Beyond. It is my most sincere hope that this film signals a maturation of Zombie's directing and storytelling skills.
4. VHS 2
You'll probably hear this several times in the next few days and weeks but here goes anyway. The one and only reason this triumphant sequel made my list is because one of the segments could stand alone as the creepiest true horror film of the year. Safe Haven directed by Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Huw Evans is a simple and awesome horror achievement understood and effective for multiple cultures. There are three other mildly interesting segments in this film competing for second best including a zombies day at the park, a dog with an action cam and aliens on his tail and of course horror maestro Adam Wingard makes a very special appearance just to keep an eye on things. In my opinion VHS 2 is one of those rare sequels that manages to exceed both it's predecessors success and it's own expectations.
3. We Are What We Are
I admit it, I love the cannibal exploitation flicks of the Seventies. This film however does not fit into that genre or any other genre for that matter. I remember watching the Mexican version of this film a few years ago and as much as I'd love to be pretentious and tell you how much better the original foreign language film was, I really can't. The exception to the rule my movie fan friends. This film was far superior to the even slower moving foreign original. Yes, the first forty minutes are agonizingly slow but, sometimes that's OK as long as the performances are engaging. Special mention to film legend Michael Parks who adds credibility to a largely unknown cast. Even with the first half of the film being horribly slow moving there is a fascinating story building in the silence and the chilling melancholy rain that bears down relentlessly. Plus, this film has one of my all time favorite endings. As for my love of the cannibal exploitation genre, guess I'll keep waiting for Eli Roth's Green Inferno to feed that monster. I think it's still coming out sometime this decade.
2. The Conjuring
I was so excited last year after the test screenings of James Wan's The Conjuring. When the studio decided to push the little horror film that could into a competitive Summer release I just knew it was going to be outstanding. Me and my girls were first in line at the first July showing and then came the disappointment. Not a strong starting review for my number two of the year I know. What bothered me the most though was how they trailer raped the scariest parts of the film to get us in the seats completely unconcerned about how we left them. Ok, now, here's the good part. The Conjuring may have failed to live up to the horror hype but what I witnessed was just a really great movie all around. The film does something that I never expected, it steals your heart. The Warrens are truly caring and wonderful people above all else and it's time some of their amazing stories were told.
1. You're Next
I truly can't express how much I adore the growing volume of work coming from future horror legend Adam Wingard. You're Next may have missed the mark for many traditional horror fans but for me it was right on target. By far my favorite film of the year, this little twist on the home invasion sub-genre provided the most entertaining ride of 2013 with a wink and a smile. A truly star making performance by Shani Vinson as the girl they never saw coming along with Wingard's razor sharp wit propelled this fairly common premise into orbit. Also don't miss the early cameo by fellow horror prodigy Ti West as the first one to get an eyeful of what's really happening at the Davison's vacation estate. Not as scary as some might have hoped, but another homerun for Wingard and a film that will likely someday be viewed as a thrilling and adventurous horror classic.
Honorable mentions for me include Big Ass Spider, Insidious Chapter 2, +1, Mama and John Dies At The End.
Well that's it my horror fan friends and here's to 2014 and what may possibly be the best year for horror hounds yet. Let me know which 2013 titles made your top ten.